There are strong indications that terminal operators at the nation’s seaports have jacked up the cargo handling rate by 45 per cent following the devaluation of the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from N461 to N631 per US Dollar, which the apex bank sold at the Importers and Exporters (I&E) window.
Similarly, the Nigeria Customs Service has also adjusted its official exchange rate on duties payable on imports from $422.30 to $589 in line with the CBN’s directive.
Some of the services which terminal operators offer include, but are not limited to cargo handling, storage and examination.
From all indications, the new rates could invariably translate into a corresponding increase in the cost of imports as importers would want to add up the differential on items at the open market in the months ahead.
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Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, in an exclusive telephone chat with our correspondent, said that while he was attending the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting he got a call that terminal operators had increased their charges by 45 per cent.
He said the new CBN exchange rate was a welcome development, but that it would also bring about a temporary setback in the nation’s economy.
According to him, Nigeria as a nation has been living on borrowed robes in that it has two exchange rates: one for those going on pilgrimage and another for those doing business.
He said, “This is why the naira has continued a downward slide on a daily basis. Meanwhile, in the last eight years we have had some categories of elite who collect about $2m every Monday at official rate and sell at black market rate. Let us assume that we have about 200 Bureau De Changes (BDC) in Nigeria. Multiply it by the number I have just mentioned and by the number of Mondays we have had in the last eight years then you will know the colossal amount that Nigeria has lost in the last eight years.
“But looking at it from the maritime side of it as a freight forwarder, it is going to increase customs duty. Just last week, our official exchange rate was $422.30, but this week it has jumped to about $750. Meaning if for example I had a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) of say N10 million last week, I will now have to pay N12 million this week. That is the side effect of it.
Speaking also, Secretary of ANLCA at the Tin Can Island Port, Barr Ovien Imonitie, said that as at the last check on Saturday morning, the exchange rate had increased.